Despite plunging assset prices in the wake of the Asian economic turmoil, foreign companies are not rushing to acquire companies in the region in the short term, according to management consultant firm Booz-Allen & Hamilton. Ian Buchanan, vice-president of the company's Singapore office, said, however, that many were preparing to capitalise on the opportunity to enhance their presence in the region. 'Companies which understand the issues [behind the deals and their complexity] well enough, do not rush blindly into the 'mirages' and 'miracles' [created] in 1992 through 1996,' he said. 'It is essential for them to be able to spot those 'crown jewels' that are buried.' The vice-president of the company's Hong Kong office, Chipper Boulas, said: 'This is not about picking up cheap assets, but finding the strategic advantage that is sustainable in the long term.' Owing to the slowness in the change of regulations adapting to the rapidly shifting economic realities in the region, the acquisition deals would be sophisticated and time-consuming, he said. Many deals would involve working with government officials to cast new interpretation on existing acquisition regulations. 'What we are doing is working with the technocrats and economic agencies not to break the rules, but to put a new interpretation on existing rules, without the clients getting official approvals,' Mr Buchanan said. Mr Boulas said another reason why acquisition deals may not come through as rapidly as expected, is that some financially troubled companies in the region are still in a state of denial, and have not yet looked into selling ownerships in exchange for cash. On the buyers' side, multinational companies have to go through 'a difficult sell' to convince their boards to believe that it is the right time to make acquisitions in Asia, he said. Many multinationals were worried that their acquisition plans could have an adverse impact on their share prices, as the long-term values of the acquisitions were often not apparent to the shareholders amid the turmoil, he added.